An employee fired for reporting potential safety issues at his employer must be reinstated to his job and paid damages, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
An agreement ended up reached with McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprises Inc. in McKees Rocks, PA, and James T. Lind, the company’s president, resolving a lawsuit claiming an illegal termination of a general laborer.
The worker raised safety concerns at the company’s McKees Rocks work site, which serves as an industrial park and a terminal facility, resulting in an inspection by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Following OSHA’s inspection, the employee initially ended up reassigned and later terminated from his position.
“Every worker has the right to call attention to workplace safety and health issues without the fear of retaliation,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “This settlement is a testament to OSHA’s unwavering commitment to intervene legally when workers are the victims of a wrongful termination.”
The employee filed a complaint after termination alleging the defendants had violated Section 11(c) of the OSH Act. OSHA conducted an investigation and found the company had violated the act by firing the employee in retaliation for his safety complaint. In September 2013, the department filed suit in federal district court seeking reinstatement and monetary damages on behalf of the employee.
A judgment filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania provides for the payment of $100,000 to the employee. The ruling also permanently prohibits the defendants from violating the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The judgment requires the defendants to display information prominently on whistleblower protections at the facility; remove all disciplinary action in the employee’s official employment record; and provide prospective employers with a neutral reference for the worker.